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Print Reference

  • The Research & Instruction Department strives to maintain a quality collection of print reference resources. Subject librarians are responsible for maintaining an authoritative, current, and comprehensive reference collection that serves the University community effectively and adequately. The basic subject areas that are collected are those that serve to support the instructional programs and research needs of the University community. The collection is available to non-affiliated users. The materials vary in scope and depth of coverage, in point of view and complexity to meet the needs of the largest number of library users.

  • A reference book is one that by virtue of its format, arrangement, or content is consulted for bibliographic or factual information rather than read in its entirety. Almost all of the books in Buley Library's reference section fit this definition.  However, some books that do not meet this definition are shelved in this collection because of their usefulness in answering reference questions. The level of collection varies from subject to subject depending on the courses being taught at the institution and the budget allocated for the department.  Factors influencing the selection of reference materials are the currency of the material, the usefulness of the material in relation to existing materials in the collection, the targeted audience, the reputation of author or publisher and book reviews.

  • Print materials in the Reference collection consist of almanacs, bibliographies (standard, general, and subject specific), biographical sources, concordances, dictionaries (English language, foreign language, and subject dictionaries), general encyclopedias, specific subject encyclopedias, geographical sources (atlases, gazetteers, maps), guidebooks, handbooks, loose leaf materials, manuals, newspaper and periodical indexes and abstracts, pamphlets, statistical/table compilations, basic texts with high reference value, and yearbooks. Government documents are included in the Reference collection if their content falls within the criteria of reference materials. 

  • The Research & Instruction Department aims to collect both current and retrospective materials.  The emphasis is on current materials but older materials are purchased depending on the information content and the availability of funds. Only one copy of a title is ordered. Exceptions are made to ensure the availability of heavily used materials. Reference books are ordered in hard copy format with the exception of those items that are withdrawn annually when the newer editions are received.

  • Most reference books are ordered through a vendor. A few are ordered directly from publishers. Some titles are placed on a standing order list. Standing order titles include materials that need to be current to be useful, such as directories, almanacs, yearbooks, etc., as well as materials published on a particular cycle that we choose to order on a particular schedule reflecting information needs and budgetary constraints.  Titles on this list will be reviewed annually for additions, deletions, and changes in the frequency of ordering.

  • Reference materials do not circulate.

Electronic/Digital Reference

  • The purpose of acquiring electronic resources is to support instruction and research within the SCSU community. The goal of electronic resource collection development is to reach and maintain a balance between representation of all disciplines and the special needs of individual departments. Among products available on the web, products that accommodate IP authentication from any SCSU IP, including the proxy server for remote access, are given preference over those requiring special client software on PCs with static IP's, or username/password access, for the same reason.

  • Whenever possible, a trial is arranged for evaluation of the product. Although evaluation is primarily the responsibility of the appropriate subject selector, all research librarians investigate products during trial periods.

  • Decisions to acquire, cancel, or transfer a product to a new vendor are made by the Electronic Resources Coordinator in conjunction with Subject librarians, and other appropriate Library faculty.

Virtual Reference Policy

The Hilton C. Buley Library offers virtual reference service where information or research help is provided electronically via chat, text, or e-mail, in addition to phone and in-person assistance. Users will also be able to consult our knowledgebase of questions previously submitted.


The service is staffed by librarians and offered during regular library hours.

The level of service will be the same as that provided in-person at the Research and Information Services Desk.

Although the service is primarily for SCSU students, staff, and faculty, community users will be assisted as time permits or directed to email at the discretion of the librarian.

Chat queries will be responded to in the order they are received.

The librarian at the desk will determine the length of time devoted to a patron.

Depending on the complexity of the question, follow-up may be done by email, phone, or in-person.

The librarian on duty may choose to direct the question to another librarian if it is necessary to do so.

To protect our users and librarians staffing this service, all chat transcripts are recorded and retained for 30-days, after which they are deleted from our servers. Your privacy is protected by applicable laws and policies.

Behavior and Etiquette

We treat our users with respect and expect the same in return.

Anyone who is abusive, harassing, uses inappropriate language, or is in any way inappropriately using the chat service will be blocked from using our service and may be reported to the appropriate authorities.

We ask that you be patient as some questions may take longer to answer. If you do not have a few moments to allow for a session, please consider connecting with us at another time or using an asynchronous method, such as email.

Compliance with Laws and University Policy

Users of this service are subject to all applicable laws and policies pertaining to conduct, including the SCSU Student Code of Conduct (  

In addition, this service is to be provided in a manner consistent with current Information Technology Policy, and with the Library Bill of Rights.

Computer Use

Library computers are covered by the campus Computer Use Policies.


The Reference collection is weeded periodically for the purpose of maintaining an updated and useful collection.  Subject selectors are responsible for weeding the collection in their subject areas and all reference librarians participate in the de-selection of the general reference collection.

The following criteria are used to determine if a book should be removed from the collection:

  1. How important is the publication in terms of research or historical value? 

  2. What is the scope and depth of the work?

  3. Does the material belong in the reference collection or more appropriately in the circulating collection?

  4. How likely is it that the publication will be used in the future?

  5. Is there a later edition, which supersedes this publication?

  6. Is the information in the work duplicated in other works?

  7. Do duplicate copies exist on the shelf?

  8. If the book is in poor condition, should it be replaced or refurbished?

  9. Is the information obsolete?

  10. Are there gaps in the collection that should be filled?